Updated 24 October 2019.
We learned this morning that the 39 people found dead in a lorry container in Grays, Essex were Chinese nationals.
It appears to be becoming clear that organised crime has played a part in this case, and that the lives of the victims were risked for the sake of financial gain.
We do know that in the last few months there has been an increase in the number of Chinese nationals being trafficked for the purpose of exploitation in the south of England.
Trafficking is a lucrative business, an industry worth in excess of $150 billion, where those who are vulnerable are exploited through greed.
For more information on the details of the case, please look to the BBC News coverage, as more details come to light.
Original statement dated 23 October 2019.
We were deeply saddened to learn of the discovery of 39 people – including a teenager — found dead at Waterglade Industrial Park in Eastern Avenue, Grays this morning.
While Essex Police and partners are working extremely hard, they are still in the very early stages of investigation, meaning that information about the victims and their route into the UK is scarce on the ground. While human trafficking is a possibility, and has been discussed by many today, concrete information is hard to come by at this time, and so we are unable to speculate.
What we do know, is that people have been on the move since the beginning of time, but in some cases when they are desperate, they can be left extremely vulnerable to harm. This can leave people open to exploitation, false offers, or put in physical danger.
Our Director for Intelligence-led Prevention, Neil Giles said:
“We’re deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life. Unfortunately there are people waiting to prey on the hopes and dreams of the vulnerable.
“Today and every day we call on every person, to learn to spot the signs of exploitation and how to respond.”
We will release another statement when more information is available.
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Please direct any press or media enquiries to Lizzy Jewell, Head of Strategic Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07852 880 686
Further information for editors
The difference between smuggling and trafficking
Smuggling and trafficking are not interchangeable terms. There are three crucial differences: location, consent and exploitation
Trafficking involves either forcing a person to travel, or deceiving a person into taking on a journey under false promises of jobs, payment or safety at the end of that journey.
Trafficking uses threat, force, coercion or deception against a person for the purpose of exploitation. A trafficked person can be exploited at the final destination and/or during the journey.